IKEA’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard said: “For over a decade we have been working towards an ambitious goal: to have 100% of the cotton we use in our products come from more sustainable sources.

“Today, we are delighted to announce that we have reached our 100% target and we not stopping here. We are committed to creating positive change throughout the entire cotton industry.”

The retailer has actively sought to find cotton sources that use less water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, rewarding the farmers with increased profits as a result.

IKEA mainly sources its cotton from India, Pakistan, Turkey, China, USA and Brazil. The group now obtains its cotton from sources grown to the ‘Better Cotton’ standard, which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic

That standard ceme into force in 2010 after IKEA teamed with WWF and other NGOs and private organisations to launch the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) – a non-profit organisation which aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it; better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future

Commenting on IKEA’s landmark achievement, WWF’s Richard Holland said: “Cotton from more sustainable sources across all IKEA products is a potential game-changer for the global cotton market because it demonstrates the clear business case for sustainability.

“We need more companies to follow IKEA’s lead but this milestone shows what’s good for people and nature is also good for business.”

Behaviour change

While the move to 100% sustainable sourced cotton adds to the great work the Swedish retailers are doing in the environmental sector, its 2014 sustainability report did highlight a need for acceleration in certain areas.

Currently, IKEA is operating at 5% year-on-year increase in switching towards renewable energy currently at 42%. This annual growth means the company could fall short of its 70% deadline by 2015 and 100% target by 2020. IKEA also only managed a 5% reduction in carbon emissions from its own operations from 2013 to 2014, but the firm will need to have reduced it from its current level at 24% to 50% by the end of 2015.

Earlier this week (27 October) exclusively revealed details of a new R&D project to trial a behaviour change programme with its customers.

IKEA’s UK sustainability director Joanna Yarrow said: “There are three key aspects we need to focus on to be a sustainability leader: the sustainability of our own operations; the sustainability of our products and supply chain; and – the most exciting bit – the sustainability of our customers’ lifestyles.”

Matt Mace

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